Non-Toxic Fabric Softener Alternatives


Growing up, my mom used both Downy fabric softener AND Bounce dryer sheets.  We had THE BEST smelling and softest laundry ever.  But that delightful aroma comes with unnecessary exposures that, in my opinion, are not worth it.  In my mom’s defense, cleaner products weren’t really a thing back then.  However, that is no longer a good excuse.  There are now non-toxic fabric softener alternatives that are effective and cheaper!

What is wrong with traditional fabric softeners?

Fabric softeners, both liquid and sheet forms, check almost every “concern” box.  We won’t go through those concerns one by one because that is not really beneficial for our anxiety level.  Just know that when people ask me where to start making the switch to cleaner products, I always say “the laundry room.”  However, if you are very attached to your softeners, shoot me an email at asking for more info.  When it comes to laundry products, I am happy to provide you the dirty details if it will get you to make the switch! 

One more thing before we get to the good stuff: scent boosters.  These things are THE WORST!  To give you an idea, fabric softeners are graded at a “D” on EWG.  These beads of bouquet got an “F”!!  They only have 3 ingredients, but one of them is fragrance.  If you remember from my post about fragrance, this one word can include more than 3,000 harmful ingredients.  These are strictly for smell and thus absolutely not worth the risks.

Non-Toxic Fabric Softener Alternatives

Ok, so with what should you replace these products?  Glad you asked.  I have listed fabric softener alternatives for your liquid stuff, the sheets, and the scent boosters.  

  • Throw out the liquid fabric softener and use ½ cup Distilled White Vinegar in the rinse cycle instead.   $ saver for sure!
  • Throw out the fabric softener sheets and use Wool Dryer Balls instead. They are obviously non-toxic, soften clothes, decrease static cling (see tips below), shorten drying time (saves $$), and are very durable (1000+ loads, replace about every 2.5-3 years).  Not to mention these make for great, non-toxic entertainment for the kiddos while you are folding 😀 Dryer balls also win in the cost category! I chose the  following sets because they are made of 100% organic New Zealand wool (NO toxins) and were the best deal!
    1. Organic 6 XL Set 
    2. If you really want your kids to enjoy laundry, splurge for one of these fun sets:
        • 6-piece Dino Set 
        • 6-piece Friendsheep Sets (only sets made in Nepal rather than China if that is important to you) in Penguins, Koalas , sheep, or pandas.
        • These fun sets also make great gifts!  Not only are they fun and functional, but you will be giving the gift of decreased toxicity to everyone!  
  1. Throw out the Scent Boosters and replace them with your favorite therapeutic grade essential oil that has a high flash point (dryer is hot remember). Add a few drops of oil to your dryer balls.  My favorite oils appropriate for the dryer that smell great are lavender, cedarwood, bergamot, lemongrass, geranium, & ylang ylang.  Ifyou have another you’d like to use, just check the flash point to be sure it is safe for the dryer (or comment below and I will check for you).  Click HERE for detailed information about each essential oil.

Tips for Dryer Ball Use:

-If you are noticing increased static cling, you are probably drying your clothes too long.  Try a shorter drying time.
-If clothes are still clingy after reducing drying time, you can do one or all of the following: 1) add 2-3 balls of aluminum foil to the dryer, 2) put a safety pin on a couple of the dryer balls, and/or 3) spray some white vinegar on a washcloth and throw it in.  Personally, I have had success with reducing drying time in the summers, but I do add foil balls in the winter.  The foil balls work great, and you can reuse them until you notice the cling coming back, at which point it is time to replace them.  

We are almost done with detoxing the laundry room.  If you missed my post on the Best Non Toxic Laundry Detergent, be sure to click to get caught up.  Next up, I will be discussing bleach and it’s alternative. So, be on the look out for that post notification on my Facebook group or Instagram

Heidi Written by:


  1. Bianca Aranda
    October 20, 2019

    Need to try essential oils. I have no idea what scents would work on wool balls for the dryer. I am a clean smells kinda gal. Any suggestions?

    • Heidi
      October 20, 2019

      I will get you some samples of a few of my favorites. I haven’t found an oil that smells like clean linen yet (unfortunately), but I like some of the earthy smells with a touch of a flowery one 🙂

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